Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for February 4th, 2007

One In Forty Dead, One in Twenty Wounded, One Shattered Nation

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 4, 2007

Imagine, if you will, that in March of 2003 America was violently and bloodily invaded by a multinational force allegedly at the invitation of the American people — though the only Americans associated with the invading forces are all expatriates and grifters who haven’t been in America in decades.

Imagine that the force, upon toppling Bush and destroying America’s infrastructure, then set up a tremendously corrupt occupation government in which no American companies were allowed to participate in the rebuilding of America. Imagine that the country slides into pre-Industrial-Revolution conditions in spite of (or perhaps because of) the half-assed rebuilding efforts.

Imagine then that after a year of occupation, a puppet government was set up and elections held, but the only parties allowed on the ballot were those that swore fealty to the occupying forces.

Imagine that the chaos unleashed by the invasion, destruction and occupation has in less than four years caused the deaths of one out of every forty Americans, and the wounding of one out of every twenty.

Imagine that Americans, many of whom were at first happy to see Bush go, soon found themselves losing family members to the strife and hating the “liberators”.

If you can imagine that, you might be able to imagine what life has become for the average Iraqi in the last four years. One thing I cannot imagine is how they could ever forgive us.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on One In Forty Dead, One in Twenty Wounded, One Shattered Nation

John Edwards On Iran

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 4, 2007

Lately there’s been much worry over whether Bush is going to further endanger our troops in Iraq by launching a “shock and awe” bombing campaign against Iran.

There’s also a lot of concern over whether John Edwards — who has emerged as the most likely person to knock off Hillary Clinton on the road to the nomination — wants to go along cheerfully with Bush’s (or at least AIPAC’s and Likud/Kadima’s) desire to do so.

A recent interview with Ezra Klein over at The American Prospect shows that he most definitely does NOT back the idea of Bush attacking Iran:

EK: So, the Iran speech to Herzliya. That caused me to think a little bit more about what we had spoken about Iraq [in a previous interview]. And so I wanted to talk to you for a minute about —

JE: Do you mind me taking just a minute to lay out where I am on Iran and then you can just ask anything you want? Here’s my view about what we ought to be doing in Iran.

Number one, you have a radical leader, Ahmadinejad, who is politically unstable in his own country. The political elite have begun to leave him, the religious leaders have begun to leave him, the people aren’t happy with him, for at least two reasons: one, they don’t like his sort of bellicose rhetoric, and second, he was elected on a platform of economic reform and helping the poor and the middle class, and he hasn’t done anything. In fact, while he was traveling, the leaders of the legislature sent him a letter saying, ‘when are you gonna pay attention to the economic problems of our country.’ So, I think we have an opportunity here that we need to be taking advantage of.

First, America should be negotiating directly with Iran, which Bush won’t do. Second, we need to get our European friends, not just the banking system, but the governments themselves, to help us do two things — put a group, a system of carrots and sticks on the table. The carrots are, we’ll make nuclear fuel available to you, we’ll control the cycle, but you can use it for any civilian purpose. Second, an economic package, which I don’t think has been seriously proposed up until now. Because there economy is already struggling, and it would be very attractive to them. And then on the flip side, the stick side, to say if you don’t do that, there are going to be more serious economic sanctions than you’ve seen up until now. Now of course we need the Europeans for this, cause they’re the ones with the economic relationship with Iran, but the whole purpose of this is number one to get an agreement. Number two, to isolate this radical leader so that the moderates and those within the country who want to see Iran succeed economically, can take advantage of it.

Now that’s on the one hand, the flip side of this is what happens if America were to militarily strike Iran? Well you take this unstable, radical leader, and you make him a hero — that’s the first thing that’ll happen. The Iranian people will rally around him. The second thing that will happen is they will retaliate. And they have certainly some potential for retaliating here in the United States through some of these terrorist organizations they’re close to, but we’ve got over a hundred thousand people right next door. And most people believe that they have an infrastructure for retaliation inside Iraq. So, that’s the second thing that’ll happen. And the third thing is there are a lot of analysts who believe that an air strike or a missile strike is not enough to be successful. To be successful we’d actually have to have troops on the ground, and where in the world would they come from?

There’s much more at the link, but I don’t want to violate fair-use. Suffice it to say that I seriously doubt that Edwards is all fired up to kill Iranians the way some folks out there think he is.

Posted in Iran, Iraq war, John Edwards, madness of King George | 2 Comments »

Cue The Ghost Of John Maynard Keynes Murmuring “I Told You So.”

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 4, 2007

The StarTribune’s editorial staff, freed from the constraints of the wingnut-welfare-providing Anders Gyllenhaal (he who forced the blitheringly stupid GOP zampolit Katherine Kersten upon us), has now cut loose with a flurry of punches on just how devastatingly bad the Republican tax cuts of the past decade have been for the state’s economy, jobs and infrastructure.

There’s this from Dave Hage:

 Between 1997 and 2001, the Legislature passed five major tax cuts — not just temporary rebates but permanent rate reductions that reduced the state’s revenue stream by $1 billion annually and left state government, measured against the Minnesota economy, 10 percent smaller than it was in the mid-1990s.

It wasn’t long before local experts began to question the results. By 2004 Minnesota’s economy had actually slowed down relative to the 1990s, and by 2005 the state’s council of economic advisers noted that, for the first time in years, Minnesota’s economy was underperforming the nation’s.

Now an outside study has put Minnesota in a national context and confirmed those doubts about the low-tax experiment. Two analysts at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington identified 16 states that passed major tax cuts during the late 1990s, then studied their economic performance in the 2001-2006 recovery.

The results? On key measures such as job creation and unemployment, virtually all of the 16 lagged behind the 34 states that didn’t pass major tax cuts. Minnesota, though its economy picked up steam in 2006, still posted weaker job creation and income growth than the U.S. average over the five-year span.

“There’s just no evidence that moving to lower tax levels boosts your economic performance,” says Nicholas Johnson, one of the study’s authors.

As the 2007 Legislature gets down to business, lawmakers should pay attention to these results. The DFL majority arrived in St. Paul with an ambitious agenda to improve the state’s schools, roads and health care system, then quickly discovered it doesn’t have the money to carry it out. Remember, the projected $2.2 billion budget surplus is largely one-time money; even Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s budget shows that spending in major categories will go down again after 2009.

Yet if legislators mention the dread phrase “tax increase,” they’re sure to be accused of wrecking the state economy.

They shouldn’t be buffaloed by that accusation, and they shouldn’t let the state’s needs be held hostage to what is now a discredited theory.

Then there’s this from John Foley:

If Minnesota were run like a competitive business, we would insist on a clear vision, achievable objectives and measurable results. One of the most common practices in business is for CEOs to come into a company and immediately start cutting costs. They know this is the fastest way to increase shareholder value and make themselves look effective — but it rarely lasts. Cost-cutting is not a sustainable business strategy. That’s one reason the average tenure for a CEO today is three to five years.

The governor and Legislature should also be held accountable for delivering a sustainable vision for Minnesota. Consistent investment in good times and bad is the hallmark of strong, competitive companies.

How did the whole argument get boiled down to no new taxes? While I don’t like paying taxes, I understand that we have an obligation to support our way of life. What makes Minnesota competitive is that we have consistently invested in increasing our standard of living and quality of life.

Then there’s this from the editorial staff of the Strib, on how the incoming Democratic state legislature has been hamstrung by the Grover-Norquist-inspired tax cuts of the Republicans. (One thing I wish they’d have done: Mention the role Tim Pawlenty played, back when he was in the state legislature, of getting these tax cuts rammed through in the first place.)

And then we have this (though it won’t be in the dead-tree edition of the StarTribune until tomorrow):

The Every Child Matters Education Fund, a Washington-based child advocacy group, recently released a report tying politics to the health and well-being of children. In states where voters lean toward electing Republicans, children are “at significantly more risk” than in Democratic-leaning states, the report said.

Using federal health statistics, the organization’s director, Michael Petit, ranked all 50 states using indicators such as infant mortality, health insurance, poverty and child abuse. Compared to their peers in the top 10, mostly blue states, a child in a state in the bottom 10 is more than twice as likely to be living in poverty and without health insurance and seven times more likely to die from abuse and neglect.

Mothers in those bottom states are twice as likely to receive inadequate prenatal care, placing children at higher risk.

A major report finding is that blue states tend to tax at higher rates, then spend more on children’s programs. As a result, those states have generally better outcomes for kids, including lower incarceration rates, lower births to teen mothers and fewer infants born underweight.

Good for the Strib. Now let’s see them stand up to the screeching howler monkeys of the right wing, who are probably already bombarding their e-mail servers even as we speak.

Posted in economy, Silly Republicans, taxes | 2 Comments »

This Explains A Lot

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 4, 2007

Piggybacking onto what Charles just posted, the same people most responsible for beating the invade-Iraq war drums are also the loudest advocates of attacking Iran.

And I’ve just found out that Marty Peretz, the man whose influence helped convince a large portion of otherwise-sane Americans to back invading Iraq (and who now wants to attack Iran), is a longtime buddy of Ahmad Chalabi’s:

Martin Peretz, to my knowledge, has engaged in little to no self-scrutiny about the role that his own influential commentary had on the buildup to the Iraq War. He, to my knowledge, has not exposed his close personal relationship with Ahmed Chalabi — whom I met at The New Republic at a meeting organized by Peretz for editors of the magazine. I emphasize to my knowledge.

Peretz helped sell Chalabi — and helped sell the Iraqi National Congress — to official Washington. Chalabi, whose intelligence chief later defected to Iran, and Chalabi who himself allegedly passed on information he was getting from his American contacts to Iranian sources.

There is a corruption and self-censorship that hit Washington and blinded many in responsible political positions and government roles and allowed the U.S. to launch a war that should not have been launched — and to spend a great deal of time and resources punishing those who were speaking out against it.

No wonder why Peretz won’t admit that he and the other AIPAC/Likudniks, both here and elsewhere, were wrong to have listened to Chalabi the Grifter. Instead, they intend to compound their mistake and jeopardize the position of American troops in Iraq, in addition to killing untold hundreds of thousands more Iraqis as well as Iranians.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

The Planned Attack On Iran

Posted by Charles II on February 4, 2007

ICH has made available Bill Moyers’s documentary, The Secret Government. It is very much worth watching. It discusses how we got into wars and covert actions over the 40 years between the signing of the 1947 National Security Act and when the documentary was made. It shows how the men who run these operations become hardened to lying, accustomed to deceiving themselves that they are protecting us, and willing to torture, maim, and murder in the name of peace.

It’s worth watching because it explains how we are being pushed into war with Iran. John Pilger:

An American naval build-up in the eastern Mediterranean has begun. This is almost certainly part of what the Pentagon calls CONPLAN, which is the aerial bombing of Iran. In 2004, National Security Presidential Directive 35, entitled “Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorisation”, was issued. It is classified, of course, but the presumption has long been that NSPD 35 authorised the stockpiling and deployment of “tactical” nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

This does not mean Bush will use them against Iran, but for the first time since the most dangerous years of the cold war, the use of what were then called “limited” nuclear weapons is being discussed openly in Washington….

The well-informed Arab Times in Kuwait says that Bush will attack Iran before the end of April. One of Russia’s most senior military strategists, General Leonid Ivashov, says the US will use nuclear munitions delivered by cruise missiles launched from the Mediterranean. “The war in Iraq,” he wrote on 24 January, “was just one element in a series of steps in the process of regional destabilisation.

If you have a call to make or a letter to write or a friend to talk to that can help stop this from happening, now is the time. 

Posted in Iran, madness of King George | 1 Comment »

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